Turkey Chili

Jun 01, 2024 by admin

Turkey Chili by A Healthy Life For Me.

This salsa-loaded, smokey turkey chili with two kinds of beans and sweet bell peppers is a comforting Tex-Mex dinner. Each bowl is topped with melty cheese and crunchy scallions for an explosion of savory flavors in every bite.

Bowl of turkey chili with a dollop of sour cream, fresh jalapeño, and a lime wedge on top.

The Best Turkey Chili Recipe

Craving a hearty and comforting meal that warms you from the inside out? This freezer-friendly turkey chili is perfect for chilly nights! It’s packed with tomatoey salsa, tender celery, and onions. Don’t forget serranos and bell peppers for a bit of heat! Red kidney beans and pinto beans will also help fill you up. Simmered until thick and comforting, this chili is topped with melty cheese and fresh scallions right before serving for a true Tex-Mex bite.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Turkey Chili

You’ll be making this hearty turkey chili on repeat once the leaves start falling.

  • Comforting. A bowl of freshly-made chili always hits the spot, especially on cold nights.
  • Tex-Mex. The combination of sweet, smokey, and spicy flavors give this chili its Tex-Mex flair.
  • Freezer-friendly. Reheat it whenever you need a quick pick-me-up dinner throughout the week.
  • Hearty. You don’t need to serve this chili with anything else. It’s already loaded with tender beans, turkey, and fresh veggies.
Ingredients for turkey chili.

Recipe Ingredients

Smokey cumin, creamy beans, and sweet tomatoes are just some of the ingredients that make this an authentic Tex-Mex chili. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.

  • Olive oil – Vegetable, corn, and canola oil are great swaps.
  • Ground turkey – It needs to be completely thawed if it was frozen.
  • Bell pepper – Add your favorite color of bell pepper or use sliced poblano peppers.
  • Onion – White or yellow are best.
  • Celery – Don’t worry if they’re not as crunchy anymore.
  • Serrano – Jalapeños are a great swap.
  • Garlic – I prefer fresh garlic, but garlic powder works too.
  • Canned diced tomatoes – You can also use crushed tomatoes if you dice them slightly.
  • Red kidney beans – Use homemade or store-bought.
  • Pinto beans – Make sure they’re well rinsed and drained.
  • Salsa – Add your favorite tomato-based salsa. It can be spicy or mild.
  • Chili powder – Red pepper flakes are a good swap.
  • Ground cumin – Feel free to use taco seasoning instead.
  • Salt – Kosher salt is best.
  • Cheese – Sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack are some of my favorite kinds. It needs to be melty.
  • Scallions – This is an optional garnish.

How To Make Turkey Chili

The thicker this smokey turkey chili is, the more comforting it gets. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe card.

  • Brown the turkey. Add the oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook it for 6 minutes, or until browned. Use a wooden spatula to break up the meat into small chunks.
  • Sautée the veggies. Stir in the bell peppers, celery, serrano, onion, and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes, or until tender. The onions should be completely softened and fragrant.
  • Make it saucy. Mix in the tomatoes, beans, salsa, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer it for 1 hour. You can skip the simmering but it helps the chili thicken. Remove it from the heat.
  • Serve. Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Garnish with cheese and scallions. Serve and enjoy!
Grabbing a spoonful of the chunky turkey chili.

Tips & Variations

Skipping the simmering and adding leftover grilled veggies will help you dig in much faster.

  • Swap the protein. Use ground chicken, beef, or pork instead of turkey for an easy variation.
  • Add more garnishes. Top the chili with a dollop of sour cream, lime wedges, crumbled bacon, or queso fresco for more Tex-Mex flair.
  • Use leftovers. Dice my Grilled Vegetable Plate leftovers and stir them in during the last 10 minutes of cooking time to reduce food waste. You can also mix in leftover shredded turkey or rotisserie chicken.
  • Skip the simmering. If you’re in a rush, only simmer the chili for 8-10 minutes or until heated through. This will save you around one hour of cooking time. The consistency will be slightly soupier, but it’s just as comforting.
Angled photo of freshly made chili with sour cream, a jalapeño slice, and a lime wedge on top.

Serving Suggestions

This hearty turkey chili is a comforting Tex-Mex dinner option. You can even dip my Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits into the chili. For side dish ideas, try my Crispy Mini Potatoes or Sweet Potato Fries. Guacamole with corn chips is great too! Serving the chili in smaller portions will also turn it into a side dish for my Cuban Mojo Steak.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Store the leftovers when the chili is completely cooled.

  • Fridge: Place it in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Throw it out if it tastes sour or is bubbly on top.
  • Freezer: Transfer it to freezer bags in serving-size portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge or reheat straight from frozen.
  • To reheat it: Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave again until warm. You can also use a small pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes. If it’s frozen, microwave it for 5 minutes or reheat if it for 15-20 minutes in the pot.

More Ground Turkey Recipes To Try

  • Turkey Black Bean Burgers
  • Paleo Turkey Meatballs
  • Turkey Chorizo Sliders
  • Turkey Chili Recipe with Sweet Potatoes {gluten free + paleo}
Landscape photo of turkey chili.

Turkey Chili

This freezer-friendly turkey chili recipe with beans, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes is a smokey and spicy Tex-Mex weeknight dinner. 
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword easy turkey chili, turkey chili, turkey chili recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8
Author Amy


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1-2 finely chopped serrano peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced
  • 2 14 1/2-ounce cans petite-cut diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 1 cup medium/hot salsa
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions


  • Heat oil in large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until the turkey is browned, about 6 minutes. Add the peppers, celery, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, salsa, chili powder, cumin, and salt, bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended and the chili begins to thicken, about 1 hour. Serve with the cheese and scallions.


  • All Recipes
  • Fall
  • Great to Freeze
  • Main Dishes
  • Seasonal
  • Soups & Stews
  • Turkey
  • Winter

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